Tow coupling specialist V. Orlandi has been involved in extensive field trials in Western Australia on tow couplings, to come up with two of its toughest couplings yet. Working with Cropline, a bulk haulage company, V. Orlandi has come up with a design with significantly reduced wear and a longer service life.
Cropline operates throughout Western Australia and is based in Welshpool, with depots also located in Bridgetown and Katanning. The business specialises in carting grain, fertilisers and lithium. A fourth site, operating under the banner of Bulkline, is located at Port Hedland, carting iron ore. The business operates 60 trailer combinations, which are predominantly road trains. In Port Hedland, there are a further 12 trailer combinations ranging from quad trailers up to mega quads.
Benji Spencer, Cropline’s Workshop Manager at Cropline, says the business has been using V.Orlandi’s EH524 tip-over axle couplings for several years across the fleet of road trains, as up until the launch of the EH500, it was the best option available. The harsh environment the trailers were required to operate in meant that certain components were wearing out quicker than expected.
Trialling of the new tip over axle EH500 series coupling and the E551 Pacific 50mm coupling began in September 2017. After eight months of arduous testing of both prototypes, the results were very positive, with the service life of some of the key wearing components over twice the length of their predecessors. The new EH500 coupling is released to the market in September 2018.
“The main problems we had with the EH524 were the articulation pin and bush wearing out and not holding grease; and not having the flexible decline pivot we needed,” says Benji. “When the trailer goes over a hill, the A-frame of the dolly would pull the hitch down and either bend or wear out the hitch, in which case it made it difficult for the driver to hook up and unhook. So to combat that we began making our own modifications, cutting the platforms off and welding our own on there to hold the coupling up. We were also getting our own polyurethane bushes made up from a place nearby.
“The EH524 was our problem-child. We began dealing directly with the team at V.Orlandi one or two years ago. When they came in one day to catch up, we told them what we had been doing and we have been working closely with them ever since to help develop the new EH500.”
Engineers at V.Orlandi worked on creating a solution. It came in the form a trial hitch, the EH500, which Benji says is a lot stronger and more heavy-duty than the EH524.
Among the improvements is greater articulation, with an upwards articulation angle of 47°, as well as downwards articulation of up to 20°. Other features include deeper grease grooves in the articulation steel bush, heat treatment on the entire surface of the articulation pin, thicker bronze bushes inside the fitting flange, a completely redesigned front flange and higher performance gas struts.
“The EH500 has been beefed up in a way that holds its grease,” Benji says. “It has two spring-loaded bullets that allow it to go on the inclines of hills by suppressing the springs and then releasing them back to its square position. The hitch is lot more agile.”